So you are wondering if the time is right for your company to join in on social media. Well I am sure you know that you are already participating in it whether you knew it or not. However it is not like a switch that you turn on and then you’re playing in the social playground, it’s a bit more organic than that.

Actually the second you throw a bunch of employee testimonials on youtube is not the second you are playing in the social world either. For social media to work, it has to actually BE social. Social media is about sociology not technology. What makes things social is when two or more humans can share, collaborate, build and communicate together. When the audience themselves can participate with the content in a way that establishes a conversation rather than a one-way message, you have social. Companies that approach their strategies as a person and not as a marketer understands that it is about conversations not messages.

I attended the Web 2.0 Expo last week in NY and one session jumped out. It was delivered by Joshua Porter. His session was about designing for communities in a 2.0 world. Communities are extremely important to study for they are the interactive beehives that can drive these all so important conversations. They are usually groups of people that companies would like to tap into, and since they are already neatly organized around the subject matter that glues them together, it gives companies that would like to engage with them the content that they need to build the conversation with.

In his session he pointed out several definitions of what is a community in the first place. His long version:
“When you support an activity, when you make them better at that activity, by either supporting them directly or helping them support each other, then you gain the opportunity for that group of people to call themselves a community.”

That being said he also states:
– Community is not a feature of software
– Software doesnt make comunities, people do
– You dont create communities, you cultivate them

This is important as you think about your social strategy. How will your audience participate with your story? Or is it a one way communication? What will they gain by participation and does it have the “tipping point” value that makes them share it with all of their friends? Is it contagious? Do you really need to communicate to everyone and their friends, or is it best that you hone your strategy to communicate to higher targeted talent networks?